December 2017 – Cold and dry

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Heavy snow falling in northeast Moncton, 09 Dec 2017 (Dearing)

December in Southeast New Brunswick started out on a normal note with above freezing daytime highs and chilly but not frigid overnight lows.

But an early Arctic blast settled in over the Maritimes by mid-month and Greater Moncton had five days below -10 C with four nights plunging to -20 C or lower.

After near normal precipitation last month, both rainfall and snowfall were below normal for December.

Two major snow events were recorded on 9-10 Dec (16 cm) and 25 Dec (20 cm) with a significant rainfall on 23 Dec (10 mm).

DECEMBER 2017 ALMANAC (at Greater Moncton Int’l Airport, 1981-2010)

Average HIGH  -2.5 C

Average LOW  -10.7 C

AVERAGE  -6.6 C (1.8 degrees BELOW normal)

Extreme HIGH  11.1 C (06 Dec)

Extreme LOW  -21.8 C (31 Dec)

RAINFALL  39.1 mm (almost 30 percent BELOW normal)

SNOWFALL  51.4 cm (almost 20 percent BELOW normal)

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

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Extreme cold warning

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A portion of Niagara Falls has frozen over, along Canada-US border, 31 Dec 2017 (Instagram)

Environment Canada issued an extreme cold warning today for most of New Brunswick with frigid temperatures and moderate winds bringing bitter wind chills between -30 and -36 on New Year’s Day and 02 January.

From Yukon to Quebec, extreme cold warnings have been posted prompting many cities including Toronto and Ottawa to cancel some New Year’s Eve festivities or move events indoors.

In Calgary, zoo officials say it’s been so cold even the penguins have been brought inside.

Claresholm, Alberta set a new record low of -41.8 C and Brooks was close behind at -40.5 C.

Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories 2017

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Icy road on the Acadian Peninsula, 27 Jan 2017 (Twitter)

Canada had the eighth warmest period in 70 years of reporting weather in 2017, with temperatures averaging 1.4°C above normal.

From a list of 100 significant weather events across the country, Environment Canada picked the top 10 weather stories of the year:

1. Long and destructive summer wildfire season in British Columbia

2. Hot and dry summer in the West from Interior BC to Manitoba

3. Spring flooding in Quebec and Ontario

4. Cold and snowy winter in BC including Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

5. More heavy rain and flooding in Southwestern Ontario during late August

6. Cool and wet summer in Central Canada

7. Heavy snow cripples Ontario and Quebec in mid-March

8. Record heat across Eastern Canada during September

9. Blizzards hit Newfoundland in March and April

10. Lengthy ice storm impacts New Brunswick in late January

Bitter cold coast to coast

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Frigid temperatures across Canada, observed 8am AST 28 Dec 2017

This is Canada and we know it gets cold in the winter but the bitter Arctic air which has enveloped almost the entire country is a bit unusual so early in the season.

Environment Canada says the size of the cold wave – from interior British Columbia to Atlantic Canada – and the duration of the frigid weather are exceptional for late December.

Meteorologists say 1993 was the last time there was a similar cold spell between Christmas and New Year’s.

Only the coast of British Columbia will escape the worst but even there, daytime temperatures will barely climb above freezing.

White Christmas across Canada

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Barely white on Christmas morning in Truro, NS, 25 December 2017 (Dearing)

Technically in Truro, Nova Scotia, it wasn’t a White Christmas with snow falling later in the morning which changed to freezing rain, ice pellets and eventually rain.

But by late afternoon, winds gusted to almost 100 km/h which knocked down trees and power lines leaving thousands in the dark on Christmas Day.

In Greater Moncton, snow and blowing snow were factors on December 25 with about 20 cm accumulating – the heaviest snowfall so far this season.

Across Canada, Vancouver had a trace of white for Christmas while Victoria had 3 cm of snow.

Calgary is still digging out from a 30 cm snowfall a few days ago, Winnipeg had its coldest Christmas in 20 years plunging to -30 C and Toronto picked up 10 cm during the day.

Freezing rain creates icy conditions

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Freezing rain (pink) sandwiched between snow (blue) to the north and rain (green) to the south, 23 Dec 2017 (Intellicast)

Streets and highways in Greater Moncton turned into skating rinks early this evening after freezing rain began falling through Central and Southeast New Brunswick.

Social media users mentioned how numerous vehicles were sliding off the roads in icy conditions and Magnetic Hill had become an ice sheet.

A low pressure system from the Northeastern United States brought mixed precipitation which eventually changed to rain.

Meantime, Environment Canada is monitoring a major snowstorm expected Christmas Day which could bring 20 cm snow to parts of New Brunswick.

Winter solstice marks shortest day

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Map courtesy Brian Brettschneider (Twitter)


Greater Moncton experienced its shortest day of the year with 8 hours and 37 minutes of daylight.

The winter solstice occurred at 12:28pm in New Brunswick marking the point where the direct rays of the sun begin moving north from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Equator.

As the above map shows, most of the Maritimes, Southern Quebec and Southern Ontario have between 8.5 and 9 hours of daylight on this date.

North of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not rise at all today.

West coast goes white

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Kitsilano neighbourhood,Vancouver, BC, 19 Dec 2017 (Twitter)

It doesn’t snow in Vancouver very often but when it does panic typically ensues on streets and sidewalks.

About 7 cm fell at Vancouver International Airport yesterday with higher amounts reported to the north and east.

Snow also fell on Vancouver Island with only 3 cm in Victoria but at least 20 cm in Nanaimo.

Parts of the British Columbia interior picked up more than 30 cm.

Snow here and there

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A ridge of clouds as the sun rises over northern Nova Scotia near Truro, 15 Dec 2017 (Dearing)

A ridge of clouds as the sun rose over northern Nova Scotia was an awesome sight to behold during a trip from Moncton to Halifax on Friday.

Although Greater Moncton lost most of its snow cover due to rain a few days ago, Truro picked up some snow early Friday (5-10 cm) but Halifax was snow-free.

The Nova Scotia capital did pick up a few centimetres early Saturday but Truro and Moncton didn’t.

But the entire Maritimes is under an Arctic air mass which has brought cold wind chills to -25 and daytime highs well below freezing.

Alberta Clipper brings snow to Ontario & Quebec

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Snow in midtown Toronto, 12 Dec 2017 (Habitat Toronto/Instagram)

While the province itself currently basks in warmth, an Alberta Clipper moved through Central Canada dropping the first snow of the season to many parts of Southern Ontario and Quebec.

About 12 cm of snow fell in Windsor, 10 cm at Toronto Pearson Airport and 16 cm in Ottawa.

Environment Canada is forecasting even heavier amounts for Quebec City with up to 50 cm expected.

The system also brought more than 30 cm of snow to northern New Brunswick with a mix of snow and rain in Greater Moncton.